Paper-being

Project

Materials can be projected as the complex relations between things, rather than solely properties. Rejecting the repeated anthropocentric urbanization in modern cities, materials – something far less anthropocentric [1] – can be casted as the main character of architecture. Thus, the architecture is reduced to the materials in action, rather than invited to serve the human beings.

Materials that are casted to build life are called the matter-being. Here, the life is stimulated by papers in the first place. Paper is light, neither dead nor alive, and it has the capacity to store knowledge that is essential for cognitive evolution. Paper-being, in this case builds life in Kadıköy neighbourhood for the city actors to perform. Any action is performance in the city and the performance requires connections. As connections make individual actors more powerful in the city, the paper-being aims to build a network of actors.

You are invited to go though pages of a study that was designed on paper [with sketches], from paper [used as a material], thus had never been outside a paper and eventually evolved into a book [out of papers]. Books are powerful tools, tools that can share knowledge, make people interact and lead to construct new ideas. Victor Hugo mentions because it endures for longer, a printed book has murdered architecture irreversibly.

these aren’t fables between pages my book’s ageless and it’s pageless

so judge me by the page but not by my cover like it or not,

I live by the book [2]

  • [1]Petra Lange-Berndt citing Tim Ingold in Materiality, 2015, 13
  • [2]From the song The Book by King Gizzard Lizard Wizard, album Sketches of Brunswick East

Interview

What prompted the project?

In a world where the concepts are bending towards their opposites…Hmm, mostly the social and political dynamics Iwould say.

Returning the1984 of the fifties.. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength [3]. The Jury raised us a question; we were asked to observe the current circumstances of housing and challenge its patterns in terms ofliving, socializing, production etc.

My perception of the apartments in the salubrious side of the city resembled more to the prison cells – where mentally and physically people were separated from the reality. I thought living did not carry its primitive notion of collectivity, when it was getting further from the simplest human need that is to take care and communicate to one another. While apartments were designed in desultory, it alienated whom to share the cold side of the wall, ceiling,or the floor with. Now compare the homo sapiens that had to share duties and stay strong against predators; and thehomo arrivistes that randomly invades vertical cells – paradoxically again for protection–but from one another, let alone share any common ground. It leaves us pathetically with the reason, why we live in geographical propinquity- simply because there aren’t enough spaces in cities.

This compels a change..

  • [3] In George Orwell’s, 1984, published 1949, he describes a oppressive government that shifts meanings of the words towards their

What questions does the project raise and which does it address?

I would say, all the issues are around this main question: what could be a shrewd reason to live together in thepresent? It seems problem occurs when we perceive ourselves being on this world rather than of this world [4]. Whenit comes to possession we are insatiable, but we deify ourselves from actually belonging to this world. When current cities are primarily built upon human activity, our reasons of staying together don’t make sense. However, if we consider the ecosystem as a more diverse integrity with all the living and non-living including ourselves, we could find a thorough connection for existence. Thus, the outdated idea that human beings are encroachments for the nature therefore they should be separated – being imprisoned in the cities, apartment cells etc. – is initially a problematic approach because it operates on the assumption that humans are not of this world.

Then, other questions come to one’s mind; how do we rediscover our nature to be of this world? One possible answer is to live like the older times when humans were not ruling the world and were aware of its strong connection. The other possible answer would be assuming a perfect system in which all the living and non-living live happily ever after.

However, the first would be ignoring the ever developing civilization like a Luddite.. and the second to shun all the difficulties of reality and build another utopia.

Here, I concentrated what architecture could do for this issue. I thought a new prelude, in fact, would lead us to a different end. This was when paper-being came to existence, to start a parallel evolution. Thus, the project became an experiment of subverting the urban process. Instead of starting the life by human activity, it could start by something far-less anthropocentric and build all its connections till human beings… This way, we could have a different story.

[4] The SPURSE group mentions in A Guide Book of Alternative Nows, edited by Amber Hickey, 2012, 62 “the world is what radically exceeds us. It is a world that we are of, we are not simply in the world or on the earth; we are of this world that exceeds us.”

How would you define the very notion of materiality?

I tend to avoid defining such a versatile concept. So, take these words as rather feelings or raw thoughts.. To me, material world continues. It is endless and it is ubiquitous. Materials, however, is now more associated with obsessions and possessions. It is whimsical for me, when I rethink the very nature of material world as the subject of all existence and the materials that are manipulated being the object of an unjust division.

The human mind divides, separates and claims ownership to transform it into countries, parcels, possessions etc. But all these kinds of separations disable us to see the connections in between. For instance, when you walk along the border of a country or a fenced garden, you see that the material world continues, whereas the border makes you disconnected from the other side. Materiality has led me to see the world in a continues way and consequently within all its connectivity… When you look at the actors in the cities not as individuals but with all their connections, it allows you to realize how strong and effective they actually are. Therefore, instead of being ardent disciples of materials as properties, one should rather take materiality as a very proof of the existence of connections in the world.

What drew you to explore the potential of paper?

Paper started to be my interest in the beginning of the search for something far-less anthropocentric that could flash the life in Kadıköy. It attracted attention in various ways, as material properties, its historical value and its connections within the place. It was essential, because it was neither alive, in a way that was the least human; nor dead, because it stemmed from cellulose. In addition, it was light and transformable, accordingly much different from materials we usually build cities with. Besides, paper meant generations to store knowledge that was significant for the cognitive evolution but not entirely human-made. Furthermore, it already had a broad network within the project site- the paper collectors, book stores, libraries, publishers, writers etc. Thus, it could be a critical local actor to start the life with and perhaps easily exchange to the globe.

How did you approach this material? What type of research did you undertake?

I felt ambivalent between two extreme ends on the perception of the site that later shaped my approach towards the material. The first one was to perceive the space as a detached surface that did not demand anything from the outer environment. This idea of the complete independence resembles the closed systems of utopias.

The other extreme was to perceive the site as a complete dependent territory. If outer environment suddenly cuts its resources, the life would struggle to continue because it has never survived solely.

However, in reality we cannot consider a closed-system in the universe of connections and the dependence of a consumer-system without any production. In other words, these two perceptions were not options towards the site. In fact there needed to be what Solidarity NYC group call an “interdependent and interconnected” system [5].

Thus, it was these two concepts that suggested a need for a sustainable material. In an interdependent and an interconnected system, life could perpetuate itself in a cycle without needing a massive input. Looking at the site, paper was a material that could be produced from what was already there which could later be a resource for the construction.

  • [5] The Solidarity NYC collective states in A Guide Book of Alternative Nows, edited by Amber Hickey, 2012, p.53 “..that we are all interdependent, and that when we place our responsibility for that interdependence at the center of our economic functions we begin to act in solidarity with each other.”

What tools did you use throughout the development of the project?

Although I imagined the project was simultaneously realized with the design process, I knew deep down the project did only exist on paper. For this reason, I didn’t want to neglect the project’s reciprocal connection with paper, so I tried relating all my tools with it. During the project, actually building paper making tools and to trying to reproduce paper, gave me a certain understanding how paper re-making process works. For drawing, I tried making project-specific notebook and rulers in order to enhance the capacities of paper and sketching. Using paper under laser cutter, physical models always included paper and even digitally – in renderings – I used various paper textures. “Paper architecture, on paper, about paper” – a jury once commented- perhaps turns into a book in the end, in fact it did. However, when I look back at the tools I have used, I see that they consist some positive start. But the experiments could be taken even further into broader contexts.

What role did the photographs play?

Apart from the fact that it was a vast resource for the collages and renderings; I saw what had captured my attention and project had grown out life entirely. For instance, absurdly, if the public space is occupied by male domination, one shouldn’t think that women don’t exist. In fact, building an analogy over photos is a bit of an issue dealing with one’s prejudices, stereotypes etc. I cannot say I have developed enough both in capturing the frame and reading the reality.

In the case of analog photography though, it gives an additional time to contemplate on what was partially there. A time between the frame and the moment you put what you see in words. The capture of the frame always comes with a bit of a hesitation. One thing captures your attention but you press the shutter for the other – time passes. Then, the developing process; there is a time you encounter the image again. So, I would say you gain a bit more time not to infer prejudices.

How pivotal was the drawing as means through which to test and develop the project?

Sketchbooks are like dated litmus papers. Litmus Papers are tools for measuring the pH level by changing color when interacted with a solution. Since there isn’t a perfect acidity in designing, you need a judge to measure your thoughts. Sketchbooks can show where you are and where you were. If I learnt one very significant thing in school,it is to design by doing. What I mean by that is not to stop your hand while thinking. When you can manage this, you are actually testing all the thoughts and potentially eliminating a better one from the abstract imagery. On paper, you can clearly see when it is not working. And so if you can develop an intuit of why it is not working, the project would enhance to how it could work. Yet, it usually takes time to find something that works – an interval of functioning pH levels.

Throughout the process there was a sketchbook that I could draw on, put down some thoughts, take notes from the books and lectures; basically anything that could be integrated with the project. Although it cannot be a complete picture of the whole process, more or less, it is a neat way of remembering. In fact, when I am doing this interview – to return back and contemplate – my main resource is my dated litmus papers.

If you could isolate one key image, what would this be? Why?

Key concept would be the process and the construction of life collectively. In fact you cannot see a model / photo of a model without a tool attached to it; as if it is continuously happening, allowing one others interaction. So instead of choosing a key image, I would rather choose the whole sketchbook as the most developing work. However, if you insist on one image that was the turning point of the project, I would chose the image below, which was the experiment on how various architectural elements create a connection inside the city. After seeing this image, I was convinced each architectural element leads people to a different reality of connection, so it was a turning point where I realize how architecture could be integrated to build connections.

What is your take on the relationship between architecture and its image?

Any image, I would say, is selective and limited. It is the capture of a reality of an imagination that enables visual dialogue. Just like the frame of a photograph or the scale of the map, it has a context to tell, while many to hide. This makes something too visible while screening the rest. Therefore, it is powerful and dominating at the same time.

In the case of the image of architecture, for some, it is a question whether the reality precedes the image. Whereas in my point of view, the representation contains more of an imagination, of a narrative that is desired by architects. And it is usually not the nearest to the reality. When the architectural image is thought to be the image of reality, the comparison gives discomfort. But actually it is no different than the other images that is selective, limited and mostly imagined.

What is for you the architect's most important tool?

…the ability to create new tools. Audre Lorde mentions, “you cannot dismantle masters house with masters tools” [6].When I first heard that quote, I was really influenced by the words she used. Not destroying but dismantling in order to utilize the pieces over time.

Here, I take dismantling as an act of construction. Constructing new ideas by dismantling. Thus, it has a reference to the past while being advanced. And for that reconstruction we always need new tools.

  • [6] The title of Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” 1984

About

Nida was lucky to be in the Jury full of fostering people. She really appreciates their contribution on the evolution ofpaper-being. She wants to thank to all the Jury members and all her friends in the jury yielding the research field by their thoughts and projects especially whom cannot be unmentioned – the beloved teachers Aslıhan Şenel, AyşeŞentürer who were always staying in a critical distance by asking the most enhancing questions and the Jury memberErdem Ceylan who helped her highlight the significant ideas to deal with.

#Interviews